Deep stigma surrounds depression and other mental illnesses in many Asian American communities, which makes it harder for students to receive help if they become depressed or suicidal. But many mental health professionals are making strong efforts to address this stigma so that students can receive effective treatment.
In a three-part series, Bay Area journalist Katherine Kam reported on the problem. Here are links to the English versions in New American Media:
- Cultural Stigma Hurts Asian-American Teens with Depression
- A Psychological Lifeline for Asian-American teens
- On Some College Campuses A Focus on Asian-American Mental Health
What can ministers do? We asked the author:
Ministers can help reduce stigma by talking about depression as a genuine illness from which people can recover; it’s not a sign of personal weakness or lack of faith. Deep stigma keeps many Asian Americans with emotional difficulties from seeking out a mental health professional. Instead, they’re much more likely to see their primary care doctor or spiritual leader. If ministers talk to an Asian American student who is struggling, they should be aware that they might be the first person that the student has approached. If ministers can become educated about the symptoms of depression, as well as other mental illnesses that include bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, they can encourage a student to consider getting further help from a physician or professional counselor when mental illness is a possibility.
Ms. Kam’s articles, published in English, Chinese and Korean, are the fruit of a Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship from The Carter Center in 2012, after Kam proposed a project on depression and suicide in Asian American high school and college students.